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The debate over the term “plus size” has made headlines yet again today, courtesy of ASOS.

The British online retailer has been very popular with plus size fashionistas for years, always seeming to embrace the term and cater to those customers. But on Monday (7/11/16), the retailer got itself into a bit of hot water on Instagram, when they commented that the term “plus size” was “whack”.

Innocently, they posted an image of Naomi Shimada wearing the brand.

Shimada is known as a plus model in the fashion industry who has modeled for ASOS before and initially when the retailer posted the image, they identified her as such. This led to many commenters stating that the model did not “look” plus size and the retailer then editing the description to state that Shimada is just a model.

 

The retailer commented that they removed the term from the model’s description on the image because it’s an “uncool industry label that can cause offence“.

We’re sure ASOS had no idea what a firestorm they started with this but it clearly showed how much influence customers (including bloggers!) have on a brand. The comments started flooding in about the “whack” comment with uber-popular UK plus size fashion blogger Danielle Vanier leading the charge.

Other well-known bloggers such as Kellie Brown of And I Get Dressed and Stephanie Yeboah of Nerd About Town also chimed in their thoughts.

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ASOS tried to smooth things over, inviting the commenters including Vanier to take the conversation to DM (Direct Message) to talk in private about how they can rectify this but these ladies were not having it! Good for all of them for standing their ground and letting the retailer know how they feel about their description of the term.

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Ironically, the model featured in the image which prompted this debacle doesn’t have an issue being called plus size.

In October 2015, Shimada penned a piece for The Guardian about how she felt about being a plus size model titled “Why is plus a dirty word in fashion?“:

“Plus-size modelling starts at size 12 which obviously I thought was crazy. But I see now it’s just the language. It just means ‘plus’ in comparison to the super thin.”

“Now I feel frustrated. I’m 28 and a size 16, and ‘plus’ still feels like a dirty word in the fashion world. There’s such fear and paralysis and shame and confusion associated with anything size-related. And within the plus industry, too. For instance, I’ve always worked more when I’ve put on more weight.”

Interesting enough, she also said this about ASOS:

“A huge proportion of Asos’s revenue now comes from the plus division, because it is one of the few retailers that has finally figured out that size 18 girls just want to buy what all the other girls are buying.”

Hmmm… we wonder how their “whack” comment will affect their business going forward.

We think this commenter said it best:

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We’re curious to see how this turns out for ASOS and what they will do next.

What do you think? Please comment below and let us know!